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No fewer than 25 researchers from the UvA and Amsterdam UMC have been awarded Veni grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The grants amount to a maximum of 250,000 euros per project. The recipients can use this to further develop their research idea for the next three years.

Of the 1,127 project applications that the NWO received, a total of 162 were awarded a Veni in this round.

The recipients

  • Dr Michelle Achlatis (Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics): Their day in the sun: the ancient collaboration between marine sponges and their photosynthetic symbionts
    Imagine symbiotic microbes under your skin harvested sunlight and fed you sugars. They do so inside marine sponges, but how much sugar can they spare and how do they communicate with the sponge? This research uncovers how sponges and microbes collaborate, and evaluates their sun-driven biomass production on coral reefs.
  • Dr Rowan Arundel (Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research): WEALTHSCAPES: the spatial inequality of housing wealth accumulation
    Housing wealth is central to growing societal inequalities. Its accumulation is also inherently spatial and increasingly so. Combining detailed spatial and quantitative analyses across the Netherlands, UK and Spain, the project confronts the crucial role of both housing market spatial polarisation and divided housing access in driving growing wealth inequalities.
  • Dr Jef Ausloos (Institute for Information Law): Empowering Academia through Law: Transparency Rights as Enablers for Research in a Black Box Society
    While ICTs enable the exponential growth of the ‘data society’, academia struggles to obtain research data from the companies managing our data infrastructures. This project critically studies the scientific, legal and normative merits and challenges of using transparency rights as an innovative method for obtaining valuable research data.
  • Dr Udo Böhm (Psychology Research Institute): Driven to Distraction by Technology
    In recent years supportive technology such as cruise control in cars has become widely available. A side effect of this technology is that users are more easily distracted, which leaves them unprepared for sudden emergencies. The present project will develop mathematical models that detect and help to counteract user distraction.
  • Dr Claudia van Borkulo (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): A multi-timescale network modelling framework: Integrating fast-changing mood states and slow-changing symptoms in mental disorders
    To reduce the burden of depression, symptoms should be studied at the appropriate timescales. Current methods cannot handle variables with different measurement frequencies. This project aspires to develop a multi-timescale network modelling framework to cross current methodological borders to simultaneously investigate symptoms at the time scales at which they evolve.
  • Dr Fleur Bouwer (Psychology Research Institute): The swinging brain: searching for our sense of rhythm
    In music, rhythm allows us to predict when a sound will occur, and therefore to move to music. This project uses computational models and brain scans to determine how we form temporal predictions, why people differ in rhythmic abilities, and how prediction formation may be impaired in Parkinson’s Disease patients.
  • Dr Janna Coomans (Amsterdam School of Historical Studies): (In)flammable Cities: How fire risks and prevention transformed the Low Countries (1200-1650)
    Fire plagued pre-industrial cities due to widespread presence of combustible materials and use of open fire. This VENI-project investigates how Netherlandish cities adapted their socio-political organization and built environment to mitigate these risks. This provides insight into both the impact of environmental hazards themselves and preventative practices to reduce them.
  • Dr Annemieke van Dam (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): Chemical profiling of fingermarks
    The ridge pattern of fingermarks is used for the identification of the donor. However, fingermarks contain much more information when the chemical profile is analysed, such as the sex and blood type of the donor. In this project a biosensor will be developed that is able to reveal this information.
  • Dr Simon Ferdinand (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis): Imagining Earth Otherwise
    Although Earth is now predominantly represented as a geometrical globe, historically it has been depicted in much more diverse ways. This project uses an innovative GeoHumanities approach to show how past representations of Earth from different cultures provide alternative ways of tackling global environmental change today.
  • Dr Julia Haaf (Psychology Research Institute): Same or Different? Modelling Individual Differences in Cognitive Tasks
    The ability to inhibit irrelevant information is necessary for perception, learning, and decision making. Inhibition is therefore studied in many research areas using cognitive tasks. This projects aims to examine individual differences in these tasks by developing novel Bayesian hierarchical models of critical behavioural patterns.
  • Dr Tanja Hentschel (Amsterdam Business School): The person I should to be: Prescriptive self-stereotyping of women and men
    Stereotypes, generalised assumptions about women and men, are a major reason for gender inequality. This project develops theory and investigates how women’s and men’s internalization of stereotypes about who they should be can result in gendered career behaviour and decisions.
  • Dr Melissa Hooijmans (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): Non-invasive MR platform to study muscle ageing during in-magnet exercise
    Reduced muscle oxidative capacity and decreasing muscle strength are key contributors to loss of mobility with age. Non-invasive, dynamic and functionally relevant outcome measures targeting skeletal muscle oxidative capacity are lacking. I will develop non-invasive state-of-the-art MRI, using in-magnet exercise, to assess muscle oxidative capacity in ageing muscle.
  • Dr Eva Meijer (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis): The politics of (not) eating animals
    In this research project I examine deliberative practices surrounding the eating of animals. I examine three case studies in order analyse the relation between language and power and to investigate possibilities for making democratic debate more inclusive.
  • Dr Marijn Meijers (Amsterdam School of Communication Research): Can virtual reality save the world? Stimulating pro-environmental behaviour by visualising environmental impact and the power of the collective
    To stimulate pro-environmental behaviour, people need to believe they can make a difference in solving environmental problems (e.g., climate change), both personally and as a group. I investigate how innovative Virtual Reality applications can be used to enhance these beliefs using unprecedented visualizations of the environmental effects of pro-environmental behaviours.
  • Dr Milica Nikolić (Research Institute of Child Development and Education): Please, excuse my behaviour! The origins and social functions of shyness across typical and atypical development
    The self-conscious emotion of shyness serves as a nonverbal apology that promotes social bonding, which is essential for survival. When dysregulated or absent, however, shyness relates to psychopathology. Because shyness is common in children, this project investigates how parents socialise shyness and the social benefits and costs of childhood shyness.
  • Dr Antonija Oklopčić (Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy): How exoplanets lose their atmospheres
    Atmospheres of extrasolar planets are crucial for determining the properties of these distant worlds and assessing whether they could harbour life. However, planetary atmospheres change and evolve over time, and even escape from their planets. This research will develop new tools for investigating how extrasolar planets lose their atmospheres.
  • Dr Aishwarya Parthasarathy (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): The integrated neural code of action selection and action-outcome valence in the basal ganglia
    We naturally pursue rewarding experiences actively, but choose to be passive in order to avoid aversive stimuli (not being proactive). This proposal aims to identify how and why our brain biases our action choice differently in rewarding and aversive situations, a phenomenon that is also highly relevant in psychiatric disorders.
  • Dr João Quintais (Institute for Information Law): Responsible Algorithms: How to Safeguard Freedom of Expression Online
    Due to the unprecedented spread of illegal and harmful content online, EU law is changing. New rules enhance hosting platforms’ obligations to police content and censor speech, for which they increasingly rely on algorithms. This project examines the responsibility of platforms in this context from a fundamental rights perspective.
  • Dr Jeroen Smid (Institute for Logic, Language and Computation): Because of this part…
    An aeroplane can fly because it has wings. This is an example of a part–whole explanation. Such non-causal explanations are analysed in this project using the influential counterfactual analysis of causal explanations. This synthesis between two types of explanations creates a better understanding of explanations.
  • Dr Eftychia Stamkou (Psychology Research Institute): Can art reduce bias against women leaders?
    Across cultures and over time, women remain underrepresented in leadership roles. The bias against women leaders is sustained by detrimental gender norms that are resistant to change. Can artworks that challenge these norms reduce bias against women leaders? This project aspires to unpack the potential of art for social change.
  • Dr Eefje Steenvoorden (Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research): What does trust in politics mean to you? Types of political (dis)trust and their behavioural consequences
    We do not know what citizens think of when we ask them about their trust in politics, let alone whether all citizens use the same meaning. This project researches the types of political (dis)trust, how to measure them, and what consequences they have for voting and protest participation.
  • Dr Petter Törnberg (Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research): Seeing the city through digital platforms
    The advent of digital platforms like Airbnb and Yelp has changed the way we explore cities. This is shifting the power balances in cultural conflicts over the city and its places. How do digital platforms shape conflicts in the city? Who wins and who loses?
  • Dr Felipe Vieira Braga (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): Good cop, bad cop: the role of regulatory T-cells in colorectal cancer development and treatment
    Cancer cells reside in busy neighbourhoods. The moment cancer cells move into the neighbourhood, things start to go wrong. Neighbours usually contact the police (immune cells) to get rid of the cancer cells. I will study how immune cells evict cancer cells from their neighbourhood.
  • Dr Lonneke van Vught (Amsterdam UMC, AMC location): PHENOSEP: Clinical phenotypes in sepsis: trajectories and association with the host response
    Sepsis is caused by a dysregulated response to infection. The lack of specific therapy has been ascribed to the diversity in sepsis patients. This project will use large clinical and laboratory data sets to stratify sepsis patients into distinct phenotypes and determine the trajectory of these phenotypes during ICU stay.
  • Dr Felix Wierstra (Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics): New algebraic structures to describe geometric shapes
    Topology is the study of geometric shapes. For example, a football and a tire are both hollow, but in a different way. Topologists try to describe these objects with algebraic structures, like a multiplication. The goal of this project is to develop new multiplications that describe these geometric objects.